So how do you diffuse that bomb that continues to tick away the minutes in your relationship, getting louder and louder; knowing that any minute it could explode? The apostle Paul tells us that the answer is to “open wide your heart…make room in your heart (for each other).” So what is this “heart” Paul speaks of? In simple terms it’s what you care about. Most of us at one time or another find ourselves in one of three modes when it comes to really caring about someone or something. Sometimes we’re in neutral, which is better than the mode that can best be described as wishing misfortune for someone or something. In that mode you do care, maybe even passionately, but it is a destructive rather than productive force. The third mode of caring is when we deeply wish, with all our “heart,” for a positive outcome. This however is not the hard part of Paul’s teaching. It’s where he says “make room…open wide” and he repeats the phrase “open wide” twice; to make sure we pick up on it.
Paul made this appeal to his Corinthian brothers on his own behalf, arguing that “We have wronged no one…corrupted no one…and condemned no one (2Corinthians 7:2).” At first reading, this sounds a lot like some of the defensive positions I’ve taken when in the heat of the battle with Cindy, saying “It’s not my fault.” The major difference is, more often than not, it was my fault or at least I had a share in the blame. What Paul says next is what’s important, “I do not say this to condemn you; I have said before that you have such a place in our hearts that we would live or die with you.” The extent to which you should be willing to open your heart to your husband or wife is perfectly expressed in these few words; “I don’t condemn you and would live or die with you.” This is the very definition of how Christ views us, that no matter what we’ve done, He does not condemn us, He was willing to die for us, and wants us to live with Him for eternity.
In verse four, Paul continues saying, “I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our trouble my joy knows no bounds.” Paul has not only described for us how to open our hearts but also how to pour out the love of Christ that lives in the heart of every believer. “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart (Romans 10:8).” If you can’t imagine saying such things to you spouse in the heat of the struggle, you aren’t alone. The fact is that without the help of the Spirit of God, who lives in you, all it could ever be is imaginary. If you really want to save your marriage from the harm that unchecked sin and strife will cause, the answer is the same as Jesus gave His disciples when they asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:25, 26).” The Spirit will give you the words you need, if you open your heart wide for your beloved and the Lord your God.
“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will give you a new heart and put a new Spirit in you; I will remove your heart of stone…” Ezekiel 36:26